Everyday Heroes: 50 Americans Changing the World One Nonprofit at a Time


IPPY 2012 Outstanding Book of the Year, Most Likely to Save the Planet (Independent Publisher Book Awards)
Nautilus 2012 Gold Grand Winner, General Adult
Foreword Reviews 2012 Book of the Year Finalist, Social Sciences

Two years ago, photographer Paul Mobley and author and editor Katrina Fried set out to find fifty Americans who had made it their business to improve the lives of others. The result is this ...

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IPPY 2012 Outstanding Book of the Year, Most Likely to Save the Planet (Independent Publisher Book Awards)
Nautilus 2012 Gold Grand Winner, General Adult
Foreword Reviews 2012 Book of the Year Finalist, Social Sciences

Two years ago, photographer Paul Mobley and author and editor Katrina Fried set out to find fifty Americans who had made it their business to improve the lives of others. The result is this groundbreaking book profiling some of America’s leading social entrepreneurs whose energy and nonprofit organizations have changed the lives of millions around the world, very often one at a time.

From activists who have rallied the support of hundreds of volunteers to bring such necessities as clean drinking water, economic support, and urgent medical care to developing nations, to educational leaders who are using their gifts to elevate the opportunities of the poor and disadvantaged, to crusaders of equal rights and women’s advocacy, these are remarkable everyday citizens. Fried interviewed this eclectic and passionate group of people and has written their startling stories, sharing a unique view of their personalities, journeys, and causes.

You will meet heroes such as infectious disease specialist, Gary Slutkin, who returned from Africa (where he reversed the Aids epidemic in Uganda) to reduce street violence in Chicago with stunning success through his organization CeaseFire; Geoffrey Canada, the founder and CEO of the Harlem Children’s Zone, whose pioneering efforts to reform education in one of New York’s most impoverished neighborhoods has touched thousands of students and families; Susan Burton who after fifteen years in and out of the justice system, rehabilitated herself and started A New Way of Life, which provides housing and support services to formerly incarcerated women in South Central Los Angeles; and Roy Prosterman, a man who has devoted an entire lifetime to securing land rights for the poor throughout the Third World.

Their narratives are accompanied by powerful portraits from award-winning photographer Paul Mobley who brings a grace and epic quality to his images of these remarkable people. Traveling the country to capture his subjects where they live and work, Mobley has created a body of images that harnesses the spirit and energy of giving.

A complete directory of the organizations founded by the heroes is included. Each American celebrated in these pages is making a profound contribution to bettering our world. Their stories serve as an inspiration and as a reminder of an empowering truth: every human being can and should make a difference.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
IPPY 2012 Outstanding Book of the Year, Most Likely to Save the Planet (Independent Publisher Book Awards)
Nautilus 2012 Gold Grand Winner, General Adult
Foreword Reviews 2012 Book of the Year Finalist, Social Sciences

"Passion and persistence (and success) are the watchwords that writer Katrina Fried and photographer Paul Mobley (American Farmer: Portraits from the Heartland) capture on every page as they celebrate these dedicated agents of change. Everyday Heroes will serve to inspire readers to have faith, hope and new kinds of charity."
—JOHN McFARLAND, Shelf Awareness, November 16, 2012

“The social entrepreneurs profiled in Everyday Heroes demonstrate extraordinary passion and purpose in their pursuit of social change. Each story of courage, resilience and progress serves as a clinical shot of optimism for all those who dare to dream of a brighter future for all.” – Rahm Kanani, The Common Good, Forbes

"When the bottom fell out of the economy in 2008, Katrina Fried sought an antidote to the anxiety that spread across America. She wanted to feel inspired. As an editor at Welcome Books, Ms. Fried produces lavish coffee-table books on subjects like fashion, cooking, and small-town living. She decided to use her expertise to create that inspiration, and make it beautiful to behold. The result is Everyday Heroes: 50 Americans Changing the World One Nonprofit at a Time, a glossy salute to 50 founders of charities throughout the nation, and one that its creators hope will bring more attention and support to worthy causes."
— CAROLINE BERMUDEZ, The Chronicle of Philanthropy

"There is no shortage of problems in the world. The good news is that each problem represents a potential opportunity for an enterprising individual with a good idea and the drive to rally others in a quest for solutions.  This book is filed with solutions to more problems than you can shake a stick at.  It will not only leave you with deep respect for the individuals profiled but will give you path toward getting more involved with your own community, and perhaps spark new solutions to issues you care about." –  Nick Aster, Founder & Publisher, TriplePundit.com

“The handout has been replaced by the handshake,” says Katrina Fried, writer of Everyday Heroes. “Today’s nonprofit reformers are interested in creating meaningful equal partnerships to empower communities and individuals to raise themselves out of poverty.” The 50 social entrepreneurs interviewed in this book are using their passions, backgrounds, and skills to change other peoples’ lives by encouraging them and giving them the opportunity to change them themselves. Susan Burton rehabilitated herself from drugs after her release from prison and started A New Way of Life to provide support services and housing for other formerly incarcerated women; Dean Kamen founded FIRST robotics to encourage teens to develop a love for and to hone their skills in the maths and sciences, as well as in teamwork, cooperation, and innovation; and Enid Borden, president of Meals on Wheels, has committed her organization to ending senior hunger by the year 2020. With beautiful photographs and inspiring narratives, Everyday Heroes offers philanthropists—as well as the regular people hoping to become one—an abundance of novel ideas from people who are on the cutting-edge of social entrepreneurship. – Kimber Bilby, Staff Pick, ForeWord This Week/Foreword Reviews, 9/20/12.

This thoughtful and visually compelling coffee table book belongs not only in homes, but also in nonprofit lobbies and school libraries. Readers will be encouraged to enter into or expand their own involvement in nonprofit endeavors and, more than a few will be inspired to turn their dreams into reality by founding a nonprofit.
—GREG KINCAID, SoWhatFaith.com, November 15, 2012

I'm a huge fan of Charity: Water so I picked up this book just to have a quick look at how Scott Harrison started a non-profit that has provided clean drinking water for over 2.7 million people in developing countries. His story is completely fascinating to me so I decided to get this book out and read the whole thing. The people in this book are completely amazing. The subtitle pretty much tells you what this book is about but it's incredible to read about how everyday people can make a difference. A big difference. Everyday Heroes features stories of people selflessly working to improve the lives of others their stories are a necessary reminder that everyone can and should contribute to bettering the world. We can't do everything, but we can do something.
—Laura, Auckland Libraries Blog, November 28, 2012

I have rarely seen the chronicling of nonprofit leaders in such harmony between informative journalism, heart felt story-telling and beautiful imagery. This book truly tells the whole story of the wonderful lives, endeavors and struggles of extraordinary human beings.
Founder of People's Grocery and currently CEO of People's Community Market

Everyday Heroes is a beautiful collection of stories that will lift you up, inspire you and remind you that with passion and purpose, anything is possible.  
Founder of Bright Pink

The profiles in Everyday Heroes will inspire readers to action.  I know the profiles inspired me!
Founder / CEO of DonorsChoose.org

When the wonderful folks at Welcome Books called to interview me for this book, I was incredulous and honored. Through it I have come to realize that there really are at least 49 heroes changing the world one nonprofit at a time. I would love to sit down with each and every one of them and pick their brains about how I can raise my nonprofit to the high standards they have met and then do what all of us in the nonprofit world need to do: share the word that we are all in this together, and we have a shared responsibility to make a difference in a small piece of the world.
-ENID BORDEN - Alexandria, VA
Former President / CEO of Meals on Wheels Association of America
Current President and CEO,  The National Foundation to End Senior Hunger.

Everyday Heroes is the type of book that inspires me. It demonstrates that there are people of all backgrounds, in countless cities around the world, working every single day to improve the lives of others.
-ADAM BRAUN - New York, NY
Founder / Executive Director of Pencils of Promise

Elated to be included in “Everyday Heroes.” The book documents and highlights in graphic photographs and descriptive text the importance of intergenerational leadership in advancing a wide range of social movements. It also shines a spotlight on groundbreaking work happening under the national media radar.
Dean, Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs, TSU

The Everyday Heroes book I received is so inspiring. When I read the stories I realized the how many people are making such gallant efforts to create a better world. The wonderful fact is everyday day people are actually succeeding in so many ways. Bravo to Everyday Heroes!
-SUSAN BURTON - Los Angeles, CA
Founder / Executive Director of A New Way of Life Reentry Project

I fear that we live in a world where people are more in love with the idea of changing the world instead of actually changing the world. Ideas don't change the world but rather, people living out their ideas are changing the world. Everyday Heroes is a beautiful book about everyday people doing their small part to change to world - and in all case - being changed themselves.
-EUGENE CHO - Seattle, WA
Founder / President of One Day's Wages

“Everyday Heroes” embodies all that our country needs right now....hope, courage, inspiration, and voices of change. It's an honor to be a part of it at any capacity and I flip through the pages anytime I need to be reminded of all that is good in our country and world.
Founder / Executive Director of American Widow Project

It is a beautiful book that captures in words and pictures the humanism and love that is present in the world. In these difficult and uncertain times, I feel hope when I see in these pages the wonderful work being done to create a better future. I am grateful Everyday Heroes has been published because I believe it could inspire thousands more to become agents of positive change. 
-MICHAEL DIMOCK - San Francisco, CA
President of Roots of Change

What an honor to be included in this important project - alongside so many of my own personal heroes. Thank you, Welcome Books, for bringing our stories to life so that they might inspire generations of heroes to come.
Founder / CEO Global Citizen Year

This book tells the very moving personal stories of 50 "everyday heroes". I am deeply honored to be included among them. These reflections on the power within each "hero" symbolize the love, warmth, sensitivity and human concern that is potentially at the core of every human being.
Founder of The Harold P. Freeman Patient Navigation Institute

This is a great tribute to the men and women who are in the community bringing change and making a difference in other people lives. This book as gotting to the core of people who are in the trenches doing the work that helps change the way we see the world.   
- RAYMOND GANT - Philadelphia, PA
Co-Founder / President of The Ray of Hope Project

When I was first asked to be part of Everyday Heroes I was totally surprised in that I don’t think of myself as a hero, rather just someone who recognized a huge social problem and thought that he had a solution.  I knew that I had to be a trouble maker to get anything accomplished in order to change the status quo and that is what I have been for eight years to reduce the recidivism rate for 16-24 years olds from over 60% to under 17%. I am impressed with all of the outcomes of my fellow participants in the book.
President / CEO of Getting Out and Staying Out

When I received the book, it felt like a treasure.  I could not put it down because the faces and voices of each person is so alive and compelling.  It felt like the impromptu, quick and though provoking conversation that you have with a stranger who becomes a part of your reality...for forever.
Founder / Director of Birthing Project USA

The great thing about this captivating book is that it humanizes the extraordinary accomplishments of people that most likely view themselves as quite ordinary. This is so important because it allows other everyday people out there who are reading it to realize their own unique ability to change the world.
Founder / President of Wine to Water

It is my hope that Everyday Heroes will serve as an inspiration for igniting the passions that lie within each and every one of us. Through optimistic determination, together we can encourage a national shift towards a society that bravely produces innovative, collaborative solutions for even the world's most difficult challenges. Here are 50 illuminating stories that exemplify how the shift has already begun.
Founder / Executive Director of Academy for Global Citizenship

Everyday Heroes is a beautiful and inspiring collection of stories — I feel honored to be a part of it!
Founder of Kiva.org

This book will make you cry.  It will remind you that there are so many people doing good things out there - we simply have to step up to the plate for one another.  Government and business can't possibly solve these problems alone. As individuals, we do have the power to make enormous change.  Focusing on 50 non-profits reminds me that this is the tip of the iceberg and that although we live in this time of great polarization and ugly politics - people are still fundamentally good and we are not, in fact, going to hell in a handbasket…
…I'm in awe of the Americans in this book - I'm reminded of how people are put together, how we do in fact care for our neighbors, our community, the next generation.  This book provides enormous hope for the future.  I think we're going to be ok...  As I read the stories in this book I'm struck by how passionate and personal the stories are.  Paul's photos capture the spirit of the individuals beautifully and powerfully. Katrina's words give so much insight into the people behind the organizations - what motivated them to start, what drives them to continue.
Founder / President of 100 People Foundation

It’s such an honor to be included in this book and have Youth Villages’ team of staff and volunteers recognized. I’ve really enjoyed reading about these folks who are doing amazing work to help others. The first-person narratives make you feel like you’re actually meeting these leaders with such great stories to tell. It’s inspiring to see how people are making a difference.
CEO of Youth Villages

Everyday Heroes is a book that makes me proud to be a human being. The fact that so many people have chosen to make the world a better place is evidence in deed of that our shared humanity is alive and well. 
Founder of The Trevor Project

I am thrilled to be included amongst such amazing individuals.  I hope this book will inspire readers to follow their passions to make this world a better place.
- ADAM LOWY - Neptune, NJ
Founder of Move For Hunger

Its amazing to be part of such a beautiful book, among people who are MY heroes! So proud. So humbled. So hopeful.
CEO and Chief Old Person of DoSomething.org

I had a blast working with Paul and Katrina!  They made this project easy and fun.
Back on My Feet is honored to be included in this collection of inspiring stories, people and causes. 
-ANNE MAHLUM - Philadelphia, PA
Founder / CEO of Back on My Feet

What an honor to be included with this host of heroes!  The book covers many people who are not in the national limelight but working in the trenches to make a difference in the lives of common folk.  I hope the book inspires another 50 plus to dig into the trenches.
Director of Pastoral Care, Capuchin Soup Kitchen

There is nothing more moving to me than seeing people commit their lives to ideas and ideals that are greater than  themselves.  I am humbled and inspired to be among the passionate, good-hearted people in ‘Everyday Heroes’ who do precisely this.
-BEN MANGAN - San Francisco, CA
Co-Founder / President / CEO of EARN

Each of the 'everyday heroes' profiled here, whether reforming the education system or rethinking global development, demonstrates the power of implementing simple solutions to tackle our most complex social challenges and, in doing so, that systems change is actually achievable within our lifetimes. It is humbling to be included among such an extraordinary community of innovators, who inspire me – and all of us – to be yet more tenacious in our efforts.
Co-Founder / CEO of Health Leads

Everyday Heroes fills me with hope and inspiration as I read about the lasting, positive change that one, dedicated, mission-driven person can make. It inspires me to want to do more in my own life and to believe in our future as a race on this planet. Bravo!
Co-Founder of National Dance Institute of New Mexico

Paul Mobley’s brilliant photographs and Katrina Fried’s seamlessly complementary text make for an extraordinary portrait of American social entrepreneurship. I am honored that Landesa’s work has been included.
Founder / Chairman Emeritus of Landesa

What an honor and inspiration to be included in this homage to everyday heroes! Yes, it’s beautifully presented, but the power and potential of this book is in its multiplier effect. It reminds me of one of the first entrepreneurs—hailing from the hinterlands of Patagonia—whom we supported at Endeavor. Today, he has directly helped dozens of entrepreneurs to launch and scale companies, not only in his native Argentina, but throughout the world. So, with a book like this, I’m astonished not only of what these fifty heroes will continue to do, but of what the generations of people will do who have been inspired by them.    
Co-Founder / CEO of Endeavor

Everyday Heroes is a wonderful project highlighting the work of individuals and organizations working to make a difference in the lives of others. I am honored to be included.
-JAY SCOTT - Wynnewood, PA
Co-Executive Directors of Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation

Powerful stories can change the world. I know, because one changed mine. In 1987 I read a story about two remarkable social entrepreneurs, Glen and Millie Leet, the founders of Trickle Up. I was so taken with their vision of sustainable change, that I went to work for them, and later became a social entrepreneur myself. I believe the extraordinary stories in this book can inspire a whole new generation of changemakers.
-CHUCK SLAUGHTER - San Francisco, CA
Founder / CEO of Living Goods

It is such an honor to be included in this book.  Reading the other stories helps me to realize that day by day and person by person, the world is becoming a better place.  Thank you, Welcome Books, for showcasing how that change is happening. 
CEO of Chicago House and Social Service Agency

Katrina did a beautiful job of capturing the core of the our life stories and Paul is a photographer with a mystical and master's eye. I'm proud to be part of this impactful and beautiful book. And my mom loves it too.
-GARY SLUTKIN, M.D. - Chicago, IL
Founder and Executive Director of CeaseFire

Everyday Heroes brilliantly tells the stories of 50 nonprofit organizations and their creators. I am honored and humbled to be included with these entrepreneurs.
Founder / CEO of Mobile Medical Disaster Relief

Everyday Heroes is a remarkable compilation of people who just want to make their communities, their world, a better place by doing what they do. The stories and reasons are deeply moving, real and inspiring, and the photos are so vivid and amazing. I'm humbled and honored to included in such inspiring company.  
-JILL VIALET - Oakland, CA
Founder / CEO of Playworks

It is truly humbling to be included in this beautiful book that surely will bring joy to all who read it.  When Dr. Albert Schweitzer, a Nobel Peace Prize recipient, was asked about his decision to go to Africa, he said, "I decided to make my life my argument."  It is clear that all the Everyday Heroes are making their lives their argument.
-WYNONA WARD - Vershire, VT
Founder / Executive Director of Have Justice—Will Travel

Everyday Heroes let's the world know about the unsung work of 50 amazing people. Non-profit leaders don't just help the needy. They change the world. I am humbled to be included one of this astounding group. It is a lot to live up to.
Co-Founder and President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation

It's a tremendous honor to be included in Everyday Heroes and i am profoundly inspired by the vision and the work of all of the people included in this book.  I think we all agree though, that the real heroes are the people whose stories will never be told.  For me, they are youth from the toughest American inner-cities who overcome extreme circumstances and terrible odds to transform their communities through service.  They are the people from the (economically) poorest countries on the planet who are breaking the cycle of poverty, illiteracy and low expectations through education.  Their courage, hope and resilience is  the ultimate triumph. 
This book is a profound tribute to each and every one of them!
Founder / CEO of buildOn

I am amazed and inspired by the 49 other heroes in Everyday Heroes!
The photography is beautiful, and I am so proud to be a part of it all
-IRENE ZOLA - New York, NY
President / CEO of Lifeforce in Later Years (LiLY)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781599621128
  • Publisher: Rizzoli
  • Publication date: 10/23/2012
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 466,853
  • Product dimensions: 10.28 (w) x 11.16 (h) x 1.08 (d)

Meet the Author

Katrina Fried has previously written American Farmer, and as Senior Editor and Associate Publisher of Welcome Books has written, edited or produced numerous award-winning and bestselling titles including: The Oxford Project, Gay in America, The Last Good War, Slow: Life in a Tuscan Town, Cooking with Italian Grandmothers, Primal Cuts, On The Street, and Red Carpet. Creating unique visual narratives that push the boundaries and traditional limitations of illustrated books is her greatest passion. She lives and works in New York City and Northern California.

Paul Mobley's early training as a photographer began at Detroit's Center for Creative Studies, and continued in the New York studios of such leading photographers as Annie Leibovitz and David Langley, where he apprenticed for many years before embarking on his own career. His first book, American Farmer: Portraits from the Heartland, was a multiple-award-winning collection of portraits that captured the soul of our nation's farm communities. Mobley has successfully worked with a broad range of corporate, advertising, and editorial clients, including American Express, Sony, Citigroup, Ford, Compaq, Gourmet, Max Factor, Microsoft, and many others.

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Read an Excerpt

Foreword Arianna Huffington
Introduction Katrina Fried

Foreword Arianna Huffington

In March 2012, I spent a fascinating couple of days at the Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship in Oxford, England. It was exhilarating—and deeply moving—to hear example after example of social entrepreneurs making measurable improvements in lives all around the world. As Stephan Chambers, chairman of the Skoll Centre, put it: “I have cried every day this week. Remember as I tell you this, that I’m male. And British. And from Oxford.” I actually cried every hour. But, remember, I’m female. And Greek. And from Cambridge.
It was a reminder that the innovation, passion, and empathy on display at Skoll transcend gender, politics, geography, and education. Service is in the zeitgeist. Now, “zeitgeist” is a German word almost untranslatable in English, but it does exist. And the evidence is all around us.
On the political level, we’re polarized and paralyzed, as the media refuses to acknowledge that the crises we are facing go beyond the obsolete dichotomy of left versus right. Pushing back against the failures of our leaders and institutions—and the resulting lack of trust—is a growing movement of people and organizations taking the initiative to engage, connect, solve problems, share, and change their communities and the world. While we wait for our public leaders to act, thousands are looking at the leader in the mirror instead and taking action. By daring to take risks and to fail as many times as it’s necessary before they succeed, they are re-making the world.
We see this in the people whose stories are featured in these pages. Some of them I’ve known and admired for a long time—like Geoffrey Canada, whose tireless work at the Harlem Children’s Zone has transformed thousands of lives and an entire neighborhood. And DonorsChoose.org founder Charles Best, who has used technology to connect donors to classrooms and teachers around the country.
Revisiting their stories was newly inspiring; in a world facing multiple crises, they are still hard at work offering solutions.
Others were new to me, and I was amazed at the boundless creativity, innovation, and empathy that drive their efforts to change the world. There’s Dr. David Vanderpool, who started Mobile Medical Disaster
Relief, administering medical care in developing countries. And Abigail Falik, founder of Global Citizen Year, which recruits high school graduates for a year of service and leadership training in Africa, Latin America, and Asia. As she says, “Initiative plus optimism is the recipe.”
I was particularly fascinated to see that so many of these organizations are rooted in their founders’ personal experiences—and especially their past failures. Susan Burton drew on her own turbulent past, including prison time for drug-related crimes, to found A New Way of Life Reentry Project, offering housing and support to women being released from prison. And Anne Mahlum, a veteran marathoner,
channeled her passion for running into Back on My Feet, helping homeless people build a sense of accomplishment and control.
There are many moments of wisdom and humor along the way, like Enid Borden’s description of the path that led her to the presidency of Meals On Wheels Association of America: “I was a child of the sixties and back then we all wanted to change the world, but then we grew into the seventies and eighties and we thought, ‘Eh, we’re not gonna change the world too much after all.’ When this opportunity presented itself out of the blue, I decided: I don’t know if I can change the world, but I think I can make a difference in a small piece of that world.”
“We are on the cusp of an epic shift,” wrote Jeremy Rifkin in his 2010 book The Empathic Civilization. “The Age of Reason is being eclipsed by the Age of Empathy.” He makes the case that as technology is increasingly connecting us to one another, we need to understand that the most important goal of all this connectivity is to allow us to see ourselves as an extended family living in an interconnected world with responsibilities to one another. The heroes of this book are the embodiment of this age of empathy.
So, if you’ve forgotten Physics 101, here’s a quick refresher. To a physicist a critical mass is the amount of radioactive material that must be present for a nuclear reaction to become self-sustaining. For the service movement, a critical mass is when the service habit hits enough people so that it can begin to spread spontaneously around the county. Think of it as an outbreak of a positive infection. And everyone is a carrier. What we need to do is go out and carry this positive infection, so that together we can reach that critical mass. And we can start by reading, and sharing, the stories of the heroes celebrated here, who are changing the world, one small piece at a time.


Introduction Katrina Fried
The idea for this book began percolating about five years ago,just before Obama’s election, as America was bearing down to weather the worst economic crisis we had seen in generations.
With a mist of depression slowly blanketing and then blinding the country, amidst the salvo of doom and gloom headlines, it seemed imperative somehow to find focal points of light. Who were the heroes, the torchbearers of hope and humanity in this new era of darkness?
Many of us consider heroism a quality reserved for an exceptional few—Gandhi, King Jr., Mother Teresa. Such heroes are to be idealized and looked to for guidance, like the North Star—a moral compass, not a literal road map. But the more I read, learned, and listened, the more obvious it became. Like the canopy of stars that appear in a clear night sky, the heroes of today are anything but rare, they’re everywhere.
They’re standing beside you in the elevator and sitting across from you on the subway; they’re your next-door neighbor and your college roommate; they’re teachers, doctors, ex-cons, priests, lawyers, inventors, and orphans. There are quiet heroes among us who embody the power and promise of the American spirit—ordinary men and women who have devoted themselves to uplifting the lives of others. And it is precisely their ordinariness that makes them extraordinary. Unlike our idols of the past, these new revolutionaries are not wrangling to become the dominant voice of reform. Their power stems from the aggregate. Together they are raising a chorus for change. Listen closely, and you’ll hear a growing battle cry: If we don’t take care of each other, who will?
The process of selection for this book was equal parts pleasure and torture. There were thousands of worthy candidates who deserve to be recognized and celebrated—how to choose just fifty? Our criteria narrowed the field somewhat. The heroes we honor in these pages are not those, for instance, that personify physical bravery—such as veterans or fire fighters, though they are by no means less praise-worthy—rather, these are crusaders for social justice and equality. Their work is humanitarian in nature. They are founders or leaders of successful nonprofits, representing a diverse range of causes and demographics. Offspring of the marriage of entrepreneurship and community service, nearly all self-identify as social entrepreneurs. They are all Americans.
Individually, each of these men and women has something exquisitely unique to teach us. Their personal paths to magnanimity are scattered with guideposts and universal lessons for achieving fulfillment. In their stories are actualizations of many of our own deep aspirations to live a just and generous life. By example, they demonstrate that the potential for heroism is innate to us all, if only we choose to activate it.
Collectively, these fifty heroes paint an electrifying portrait of contemporary philanthropy in America. The themes and qualities that emerge repeatedly in their profiles add up to a new and provocative re-imagining of charity, one that eschews tradition and embraces innovation, daring, and a global mindset. Today’s tribe of changemakers is anything but cookie cutter, yet they share a number of governing principles. Here are the new rules of everyday heroism:
Out with charity, in with partnership. The most universally defining quality of philanthropy today is unquestionably the shift in the relationship between the giver and the receiver. Gone are the days of the traditional donor-beneficiary relationship. The handout has been replaced by the handshake. Today’s nonprofit reformers are interested in creating meaningful equal partnerships to empower communities and individuals to raise themselves out of poverty. When Robert Egger founded D.C. Central Kitchen, he reinvented the model of feeding the hungry by training the homeless to prepare the food they were feeding to themselves and others like them. “So much of charity is still wrapped up in the redemption of the giver, not the liberation of the receiver,” explains Egger. “You can’t measure success by giving everybody free food. If you don’t liberate them, you’re just holding them down.”
You’re never too young. Rebecca Onie was a sophomore at Harvard when she founded Health Leads, which connects low-income patients with the basic resources they need to be healthy. Lindsay Avner launched Bright Pink to educate young women about breast cancer prevention and early detection when she was barely twenty-three. The growing squad of Gen Next social entrepreneurs lays waste to the notion that experience is a prerequisite for leadership. As Onie says, “Being younger or just being newer to the sector often leads you to ask questions that aren’t being asked.”
You’re never too old. Despite this infusion of young blood into the nonprofit sector, there are plenty of late bloomers and lifers doing deeply meaningful work. Mark Goldsmith didn’t found Getting Out and Staying Out—a reentry program for convicts—until he’d retired as a corporate CEO. It took Wynona Ward, founder of Have Justice–Will Travel, almost fifty years to become a lawyer so that she could defend the rights of battered women in rural Vermont. Others, like Roy Prosterman of Landesa, have spent a lifetime fighting for the rights and dignity of the poor, and show no signs of slowing down. At seventy-seven, Prosterman remains as energized by his cause today as he was forty-five years ago. “I’m not tired at all,” he told me matter-of-factly.
Crazy is good. In fact, if the world doesn’t think your idea is nuts, you might want to rethink it. When Earl Shorris first told people he wanted to teach Plato to the poor, he couldn’t raise a dime in funding. “Impossible,” they said. Seventeen years later, his Clemente Course in the Humanities has had 10,000 graduates and operates sixty sites around the world. Linda Rottenberg was literally nicknamed la chica loca when she decided to start Endeavor, an organization dedicated to providing resources and support to high-impact entrepreneurs in emerging international economies. Today, she’s considered a prescient pioneer. No one understood how Anne Mahlum, a petite blond from the Midwest, was going to rehabilitate the homeless by teaching them how to run, but that’s exactly what she did.
Entrepreneurs are born, not made. I’d wager that every entrepreneur I interviewed would agree this is a truism. Most have walked to the beat of their own drum since they took their first uncertain steps as toddlers and have never been satisfied in a conventional professional setting. All cite the willingness to risk failure as fundamental. The stakes are even higher for entrepreneurs in the nonprofit sector. “If you don’t succeed as a for-profit, someone doesn’t get rich,” says Jill Vialet of Playworks, an organization that provides safe and healthy playtime to low-income students. “If you fail as a nonprofit, someone gets sick; someone starves; some child gets an inferior education.” It takes a healthy dose of confidence, courage, and tenacity to shoulder the fate of others day in and day out.
You can’t rely on the kindness of strangers. With an everincreasing population of nonprofits, the growing competition for funding has forced today’s social entrepreneurs to realize that the surest way to survival is self-sustainability. Many of these organizations have developed alternate sources of income through social enterprise. Wine to Water, the clean water charity founded by former bartender Doc Hendley, raises funds through selling their own wine label and holding ticketed wine events; Michael Weinstein of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation started a chain of pharmacies and thrift stores over a decade ago, which almost fully support the organization’s 500-million-dollar annual budget.
Go big or go home. Scalability has become an oft-heard catchword among the nonprofit set. Scaling, simply put, is taking a small idea and making it huge. The potential for exponential growth is practically a requisite for the new wave of social entrepreneurs. Maximizing impact often entails reaching beyond the limitations of their own organizations to stimulate others to follow their lead. As Darell Hammond—whose organization KaBOOM! builds playgrounds in low-income communities— explains, “For us, it’s not about scaling up the organization. It’s about scaling up the cause.”
True heroes never consider themselves heroes. If I had a dollar for every time one of these charitable leaders said to me, “You know, the true heroes are the [blank], not me,” I’d be fifty bucks richer. They all possess a sense of humility and authenticity that I’ve come to realize is essential to the realization of their visions. The basic fact remains: none of these nonprofits would have soared without the profound sacrifices of their dedicated founders and CEOs. Geoffrey Canada of the world-famous Harlem Children’s Zone sums it up this way: “Leaders do what needs to be done, whatever it is, and they do it for as long as necessary.”
Having spent hundreds of hours interviewing today’s most accomplished social entrepreneurs, and hundreds more researching their histories and causes, these are the earmarks of modern philanthropy. With each hero’s story there is yet another entry point to this bounty of munificence that flows all around us. And here’s the real take-away: There is no contribution too small or insignificant. Whether you choose to show kindness to a loved one or a neighbor, to volunteer, to donate, or to build your own movement—you are helping to grow a culture of giving, from which—to use a favored phrase among these entrepreneurs—a thousand flowers will bloom.

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Table of Contents

8 Foreword Arianna Huffington
10 Introduction Katrina Fried
12 Brahm Ahmadi People’s Grocery
16 Lindsay Avner Bright Pink
20 Charles Best DonorsChoose.org
24 Enid Borden Meals On Wheels Association of America
28 Adam Braun Pencils of Promise
32 Dr. Robert D. Bullard Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs, Texas Southern University
36 Susan Burton A New Way of Life Reentry Project
40 Geoffrey Canada Harlem Children’s Zone
44 Eugene Cho One Day’s Wages
48 Taryn Davis American Widow Project
54 Michael Dimock Roots of Change
58 Robert Egger D.C. Central Kitchen
62 Abigail Falik Global Citizen Year
66 Harold P. Freeman, M.D. The Harold P. Freeman Patient Navigation Institute
70 Raymond Gant The Ray of Hope Project
74 Mark Goldsmith Getting Out and Staying Out
78 Roshi Joan Halifax Upaya Zen Center
82 Kathryn Hall-Trujillo Birthing Project USA–The Underground Railroad for New Life
86 Darell Hammond KaBOOM!
90 Scott Harrison charity: water
94 Doc Hendley Wine to Water
98 Sarah Elizabeth Ippel Academy for Global Citizenship
102 Jessica Jackley Kiva.org
106 Carolyn Jones 100 People Foundation
110 Dean Kamen FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology)
114 Patrick Lawler Youth Villages
118 James Lecesne The Trevor Project
122 Dr. Susan Love Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation
126 Adam Lowy Move For Hunger
130 Nancy Lublin DoSomething.org
134 Anne Mahlum Back on My Feet
138 Brother Bob Malloy Capuchin Soup Kitchen
142 Ben Mangan EARN
146 Rebecca Onie Health Leads
150 Catherine Oppenheimer National Dance Institute of New Mexico
154 Roy Prosterman Landesa
158 Linda Rottenberg Endeavor
162 Eric Schwarz Citizen Schools
166 Jay Scott Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation
170 Earl Shorris The Clemente Course in the Humanities®
174 Cameron Sinclair Architecture for Humanity
178 Chuck Slaughter Living Goods
182 The Reverend Stan J. Sloan Chicago House and Social Service Agency
186 Gary Slutkin, M.D. CeaseFire
190 Mike Utley The Mike Utley Foundation
194 David Vanderpool, M.D. Mobile Medical Disaster Relief
198 Jill Vialet Playworks
202 Dan Wallrath Operation FINALLY HOME
204 Wynona Ward Have Justice–Will Travel
208 Michael Weinstein AIDS Healthcare Foundation
212 Jim Ziolkowski buildOn
216 Irene Zola Lifeforce in Later Years (LiLY)
220 Afterword Paul Mobley
222 Everyday Heroes Nonprofit Directory
224 Acknowledgments

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